Complete Streets: A Good Idea with a Bad Unintended Consequence   3 comments

I found this article on line.

http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/2014/03/03/the-last-frontier-complete-streets-in-alaska/

There’s a bittersweetness to this. I walk and ride my bike a lot. I would like to accomplish those activities without giving my life into the hands of idiot drivers. On the other hand ….

As a driver, I want to get where I need to go. I don’t want to be slowed by any consideration other than safety and my fellow drivers. Once I get in the vicinity of where I am going, I will often walk between stores, but I don’t want to be slowed in getting to the vicinity. 

“This spring, Fairbanks will start reconfiguring downtown streets to improve conditions for people traveling on foot and bicycle. Wider sidewalks, new bike lanes and narrowed arterials will calm traffic and make travel safer for everyone using the road.”

Living in Fairbanks and being aware of the plans that are being touted in this magazine gives me a unique perspective on the “reconfiguring of downtown streets”. Fairbanks has struggled for decades to revitalize its downtown, which was devastated by commercial growth on the outskirts that drew away shoppers. I’m sad about that too. It’s a unique area of town, with funky frontier architecture and I wish we could save it from the bulldozer of modern development … but this is not the way to do it.

Narrow Cushman Street and “calming traffic” means it will take me longer to get where I am going, so guess what happens? Being a busy modern lady with a hundred things on my plate, I will opt for those easy to access stores in the Box Belt rather than have my time wasted in an unnecessary traffic jam. Sorry Downtown, but my time is precious and I don’t want to waste it being frustrated. Most Fairbanksans agree with me so Downtown dries up and blows away. 

“The state ranks highest in the U.S. in the percentage of walking and biking commutes and in per capita funding for non-motorized transportation, and third-lowest in fatality rate among walkers and bicyclists.”

The above is a false statement dressed up in true statistics. Alaska ranks first in non-car motorized transportation because 80% of our communities are not accessible by road. Out in our bush communities, primary forms of transportation of 4-wheeler and snow machine. So, yes, we rank highest in walking commutes, but only became cars and the roads to drive them on are not available.

So, here’s the sad thing. Complete Streets makes a lot of sense. Walking is good for us and we should all do more of it and it makes a whole lot more sense for me to visit five shops in the Downtown area via my feet than to drive my car, thus saving gasoline and reducing emissions. But … BUT … because Complete Streets will slow traffic flow to the Downtown area, most people will opt to go elsewhere, thus facilitating the exact opposite behavior from what Donna Gardino wants.

So, when it fails, the Planners will come back and say we need to do more to revitalize Downtown and they’ll start introducing ways to force us to comply with these ideas.

The sad thing is that the solution is pretty obvious to me. Make it easier to drive into the Downtown area by providing wider streets to avoid traffic jams and business-supported parking so that it doesn’t cost me so much get out of my car. Those of us who like to walk will make use of it if you make it attractive, but by making it highly unattractive, the Planners force us to vote with our tires and shop in the Box Belt.

Ooops!

3 responses to “Complete Streets: A Good Idea with a Bad Unintended Consequence

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  1. funny when people exercise their god given rights of choice, and the planners don’t like that, then they use the power of gov to force you, people don’t want to buy the most expensive insurance or fund people who don’t have any or subsidize certain medical procedures which are not life threatening and for many is contrary to their consciences, or patronize companies that have lower quality higher priced stuff, they will use the gov to force you to buy it. some how some where someone got the idea that is is everyone’s responsibility to support their fellow mans house car, medical care, luxuries and other wealth who do not work or refuse to work or are less successful in life (but are not starving) everyone’s responsibility(called social justice) except the gov or wealthy classes. funny how the rules only apply to us and not the ruling classes, how do you explain that rulers of the world? why not lead by example? give up your mansions and expensive paid by taxpayer vacations, and live in modest homes and eat the same foods and have the same type of cars and medical care like everyone else and give the rest to shelters and places that rehabiliate people to become self sufficient and employable who provide care for the hungry children of America or where ever you happen to live, or is this all just a bunch of bull to shame people for being self sufficient, comfortable and free and responsible for themselves thus not needing your phoney wisdom and direction? things like walkable streets and mass transits and the like is a red flag, after all not everyone can walk to get their groceries or walk to the doctors or carrying their stuff long distances, unless they are planning on removing any ability to have stuff and live subsistence lifestyles, hum, makes one ponder don’t it? equality to them means superiority for them and poverty for us. shameful hypocrisy sucks, it disgusts me.

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    • I agree. For me, things like walkable streets and mass transit are good things. Yes, the poor need access to mass transit and there are people who shouldn’t drive. Before the takeover of mass transit by local governments in the 1960s, mass transit was mostly owned and operated by private companies. It’s a fallacy that government has to provide it or it wouldn’t exist. But few of us remember that.

      We can thank Karl Marx for the whole redistribution concept and we can thank Woodrow Wilson for the whole administrative state that wraps us in red tape today, but to be absolutely truthful, it is in the nature of mankind to dominate his fellow man. Some of us resist that nature, but given the opportunity, most of us will come to believe that we are owed that better lifestyle because of something intrinsic in our personal selves.

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  2. Reblogged this on aurorawatcherak and commented:

    This is back on the the table here in Fairbanks, so I thought I’d reblog it.

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